Tough choices for the elderly

Age Action has warned many older people may be forced to choose between buying medicine, food, and fuel due to the effects of the budget.

In a fresh blow to the many elderly who rely on solid fuels to heat their homes, the Solid Fuel Trade Group (SFTG) has warned the extension of the carbon tax will increase the cost of coal by up to €3 per bag.

At present a 40kg bag of coal costs between €14 and €18.

Furthermore, the tax will increase the cost of peat briquettes, which currently cost about €4.25, by 90c per bale.

John Keogh of SFTG said the increase would have a significant impact on those who are already in extreme fuel poverty where solid fuel was their only option.

According to Eamon Timmins, head of advocacy and communications at Age Action, some older people are going to bed in the middle of the day or sitting on buses or in shopping centres to keep warm because they cannot afford to heat their homes.

He said the combined effects of the reduction in the value of electricity units provided under the household budget package, the trebling of the prescription charge, and the increase in the price of solid fuels would leave many in serious financial trouble.

“You are looking at a situation where people will be having to choose between food, fuel and medicines,” he said.

Mr Timmins said fuel was often more important than food for some elderly people because of the potentially lethal effects of the cold. He said many elderly people were living in older housing stock which was poor at retaining heat and so cost more to heat.

Meanwhile, SFTG has warned the extension of the carbon tax to solid fuels such as coal will mean illegal imports will rise. It said there is no robust method in place to stop untaxed product coming into the marketplace.

“The SFTG estimates that 320 jobs could be lost among its members if a robust mechanism is not put in place to ensure compliance with all legislation,” it said.

“Additionally, the Irish Hardware and Builders Merchants Association estimate that 5% of jobs in that sector could also be lost — equivalent to another 1,200 jobs.”

More on this topic

Noonan: Confidence returning to Irish economyNoonan: Confidence returning to Irish economy

Gilmore: No plans to remove rebels from Labour PartyGilmore: No plans to remove rebels from Labour Party

Labour Senator set to join Budget rebelsLabour Senator set to join Budget rebels

Burton regrets decision of expelled KeaveneyBurton regrets decision of expelled Keaveney


Lifestyle

A S the Joker would say, ‘Why so Series X?’ But the next generation of the Xbox isn’t a joke for Microsoft, who have ground to make up on Sony in the console wars. The Redmond team disappointed this generation, making early mistakes that gave Sony all the momentum.GameTech: Get ready for the new Xbox

Cork actor Eanna Hardwicke may have grown up with a Young Offenders star, but he is set to make a name for himself with a string of big roles, writes  Esther McCarthyEanna Hardwicke: Cork actor about to burst onto the big screen

Should we be putting haemorrhoid cream around our eyes? Short answer... Absolutely not.The Skin Nerd: Are celebrity skincare tips all a load of Bullocks?

Peter Dowdall reports on how Blarney Castle's famous yew has bewitched onlookers for six centuriesBewitched: Help Ireland's most popular tree get the vote in Europe

More From The Irish Examiner